Product Review: Hydrogen Fuel Cell PowerBy Robert Cong
Fuel Cell TechnologyFuel cell technology has been around since the 1800's, but it has only been since the 1950's that we've seen strides towards generating the large amounts of power necessary to help run our daily lives. Currently there are large phone booth-sized fuel cells that help generate energy for office buildings, but what about a fuel cell that's small enough to easily provide power to your cell phone? That fuel cell comes in a form similar to an external hard drive at about the size of your cell phone, and is now available from Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies. In this article we'll discuss that while more expensive initially, fuel cells last longer between charges and will live longer than other rechargeable solutions.
Process Breakdown of a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell
Hydrogen is the most common fuel for fuel cells, but procuring hydrogen is not an easy task. Horizon has now made this process as easy as screwing in a lightbulb by using the Hydrofill refueling station. Simply screw in a Hydrostik fuel cartridge, add de-ionized or distilled water and plug it in. The Hydrofill will separate the hydrogen and oxygen from the water and send the hydrogen into the Hydrostik until it is full. About 99.9% pure hydrogen is produced and stored into the Hydrostik in a non-volatile solid state. The Hydrofill can produce 3 liters of hydrogen/hour and fully fill one Hydrostik every 4-6 hours.
Hydrofill Desktop Hydrogen Refueling Station
The Hydrostik fuel cartridge has a battery-like form factor and contains a special metal alloy that allows hydrogen to be stored in a solid-state, as part of the metal alloy matrix inside the cartridge. This keeps the hydrogen safely stored without the threat of spontaneous combustion. In contrast with ordinary compressed hydrogen tanks, the pressure inside the canister is very low, making this device the safest and most practical means of storing hydrogen. Each Hydrostik can store about 10 liters of hydrogen as part of a solid metal complex and with very little pressure. The cartridge has been designed according to international standards (ISO 16111) for transportable gas storage devices (Hydrogen absorbed in reversible metal hydride), so you can rest assured and know that it's safe.
Hydrostik Fuel Cartridge LWH22-10L-5
What this all translates to is a cartridge that has the capacity of ten AA batteries, and each Hydrostik is also refillable 100 times meaning you can save 1000 AA batteries over the lifetime of one Hydrostik fuel cartridge!
Taking a look at this financially, let's say you buy some non-rechargeable alkaline AA batteries in bulk at a price of $0.40 each. This equates to $400 for 1000 batteries, which is more than you would spend on the Hydrostik, MiniPak and Hydrofill combined.
Not only would you be saving money, you will also be saving hassle as well as the environment by not adding to the waste that goes with disposing batteries after their useable life. Every state has its own regulations as to how to dispose of or recycle batteries because of the toxic metals contained in them, whereas the Hydrostik fuel cartridge is completely non-toxic and eco-friendly.
Now that you have a Hydrostik fuel cartridge filled with hydrogen and ready to use, how do you use it? You can't just plug it into your remote control like a AA battery, but you can use the MiniPak Portable Charger to power all your USB devices with about 15Wh of energy, enough for 1-2 charges of a 3G smartphone, or 2-3 charges for average cellphones.
The MiniPak is essentially the fuel cell that that provides the electricity through chemical reactions between the stored hydrogen and oxygen from the air. It includes a passive air-breathing fuel cell that draws in oxygen from the environment to be used as the oxidizing agent necessary for fuel cells, as well as the hydrogen fuel provided by the Hydrostik.
MiniPak Handheld Hydrogen Fuel Cell
Power Supply FCHP-02
This combination allows the MiniPak to deliver up to 2W of DC output power through a standard USB port and comes with a variety of micro and mini USB adaptors so it can be compatible with most of your electronic devices. The gases produced from the reaction are trace amounts of water vapor and some heat.
It is completely non-toxic, 100% recyclable, and comes in a convenient handheld size with a length of only 4.5 inches. It also includes a 1/2W LED flashlight for an instant light source in those emergency situations. Easily charge your cell phone and other devices wherever you are without the need of a wall outlet.
MiniPak Fuel Cell Power Supply with Accessories
FCHP-02– iPod not included
This collection of products from Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies provides a great way for students to learn about alternative energy and science inside the laboratory. It's also an indispensable apparatus to take along during camping trips and while traveling. With all the amazing potential of these products, you'll be sure to find many uses of your own.
Robert is a graduate from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Electrical Engineering. His interests include sports, movies, music, and playing with cool, new gadgets.
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